Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the benefits of adjusting gas taxes to reflect inflation, why the free market needs government regulation, and why Twitter can't replace physical social interaction.

Don't abandon gas taxes – adjust them for inflation

Regarding the Feb. 27 editorial, "A road map for better US roads": A "vehicle miles traveled" (VMT) tax to fund roads is a bad idea for an obvious reason: It penalizes fuel efficiency. In addition, despite what its advocates may say, adopting VMTs would involve a massive, costly investment in new technologies.

The fact that gas tax revenues are declining is no reason to abandon or replace them. The real problem is that the gas tax is a flat rate per gallon. Now is the time to index the gas tax to the cost of gasoline so that the revenues it generates increase with inflation – not to replace it with an entirely new and deeply flawed alternative.

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President Obama made the right call when he dismissed the proposal last week. Hopefully, his administration will adopt more environmentally friendly and sensible solutions to address the problems with transportation infrastructure.

Louise Nelson Dyble

Research director, The Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy

University of Southern California

Los Angeles

Free market needs regulation

Regarding the March 4 Opinion piece, "The market's harsh verdict on Obamanomics": Author Mark Skousen's interpretation of market behavior sounds like that of someone who has not been paying attention for the past eight years. What is happening today is a clear demonstration of the fallacy of trusting the market to do the right thing.

Of course, "the right thing" is different depending on who looks at it. For business owners and stockholders, the right thing is making profit. There is no social conscience involved, just maximizing profit. On the other hand, there are many more US citizens who are not business owners or stockholders. For them, unfettered maximization of profit has been disastrous.

In order to provide some balance in this system, some government regulation is required to achieve an equitable result for the entire country. The current situation is what results from minimizing government regulation of the market. The results are clear enough that even Mr. Skousen must be able to see them.

Terry Zaccone
Saratoga, Calif.

Mark Skousen criticizes President Obama's proposed economic solutions for the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression. But I wonder how a free-market strategy would handle this problem? Would the free-market followers extend a helping hand to those without a job? Right now, there is a need for compassion, not criticism.

Barbara Stubbe
Pisgah Forest, N.C.

Flaw in Web social networks

Regarding the March 1 article, "And now, Twitter philanthropy": With Twitter and other so-called social networking tools, are we creating artificial friendships and social events? True, we love to stay in contact with friends. But social interactions really need the personal touch. Our kids, now adults, have ignored the need to meet and greet; to interact, have personal discussions, and play; to have a meal together. Anthropology shows small groups interacting, helping, working, and playing together encourage peaceful coexistence.

Logging on to Twitter only once made me realize there is a difference between personal information (such as, "I'm washing my car") and interacting personally (such as, "Let's meet and talk over dinner").

Jo Ann Barnes
Austin, Texas

The Monitor welcomes your letters andopinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.CSMonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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